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Sandwich, Chips & Soda

January 4, 2018

One thing is for certain, I am not normal. If there were more people like me, then I would have no complaints about the state of food in our region, our country, and now increasingly the world.

And that’s okay.

I’m fine spending my days trying to win people over to my side in the food wars. Whether it’s trying to convince a local beer lover that he could absolutely tell the difference between real parmesan and pecorino, raising the knowledge of our local Yelp community on natural and local wines, or alerting blog readers to a pop-up dinner with a nationally recognized chef.

When you live most of your life outside the mainstream, there is a lot of normal food experiences that get missed. For example, I couldn’t tell you anything about the best supermarket deli hams for at home sandwich making. Nor could I even begin to explain what makes for a good supermarket deli counter.

I am fairly certain that when normal people get a sandwich, they also will grab a bag of chips and a soda. And that’s something I never do. Well… until recently.

First, I should explain where I’m coming from.

I like soda. It’s a popular myth about foodies that we hate soda. It can be a delicious, zesty enterprise. However there are some people who drink it compulsively and without joy.

My bottom line is that soda is effectively liquid candy. Candy is dandy. But I wouldn’t suck on a lollipop between bites of a burger, so I don’t take sips of soda while eating a sandwich. Instead, I save soda as a treat for when I need a little sweet pick-me-up, and enjoy it fully on its own terms.

Yes, it’s true, I do look for sodas that are less sweet, with more complexity, and made from better ingredients. What can I tell you, I have adult tastes.

By the same token, I have nothing against chips per se. Mr. Dave once introduced me to the lard fried potato chips made in Pennsylvania and sometimes available here in local supermarkets. The only reason I don’t eat those all the time is because they would probably take at least ten years off my lifespan.

Still, I typically avoid chips when I order a sandwich.

Sandwiches are something a take seriously. Whether it’s a grilled cheese from The Cheese Traveler, or some meat and cheese monster on gutsy bread from a great Italian deli, or even just a thick and juicy burger full of tender beefy comfort.

I was going to say that none of these required any side items. But the grilled cheese goes well with a pickle to cut the fattiness. I’ve been known to eat my burgers over a pile of fries, so any beefy drippings can get absorbed by the potatoes on my plate. That way not a drop of deliciousness is wasted.

The Italian sub can stand alone. If done well, it’s perfect in its construction. Although a good sparkling Italian mineral water can really hit the spot.

Where am I going with this?

Recently, I finally had my first visit to Chopped Cheezus in the Troy Kitchen. There they serve what I’m told is a modern NYC bodega classic, which is somewhere between a cheesesteak and a cheeseburger hoagie. Every sandwich also comes with a bag of chips and a soda.

They stock an interesting selection. I’d never heard for Rap Snacks potato chips before, and was told that the Honey Jalapeno flavor were good. So I got those along with a Vernors soda. This assertively gingery soft drink, originally from Detroit, has long been one of my favorites.

When in Rome, right? So I ate my meaty, cheesy sandwich; interspersed with bites of crispy, spicy chips; washed down with sips of sweet and gingery soda.

Wow.

Okay. I get it now. This is a powerful combination of salt, sugar, fat, and carbs. My hunch is that people who are accustomed to eating these three things together, have probably become dulled to their impact. Much like the way people have been able to stomach more and more soda, with sizes growing from eight ounces, to twelve ounces, to north of twenty ounces.

This may also go a long way towards helping me understand how anyone can make it through a Subway sandwich. Maybe those subs are just a salty, bready, foil for chips and soda.

Regardless, my eyes have been opened, and I’m looking forward to many happy returns.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2018 12:33 am

    I love those “AHA!” moments.

    I had a similar aha moment in Chicago. I never understood why putting ketchup on a hot dog caused so much consternation. But while eating Chicago style hot dogs in The Windy City, I got it! I finally understood why ketchup on a hot dog is a sin.

  2. Benjamin Maggi permalink
    January 5, 2018 12:02 pm

    I don’t eat dill (sour) pickles, only sweet pickles. And, I never eat sweet pickles or relish of any kind on a burger because I don’t something sweet taking away from the meaty experience. However, I recently found pickled jalapenos at the supermarket that were labeled “Not too hot, not too sweet.” On a whim I bought the jar and tried some and they were good (though they should have been labeled “Some are really hot, some are really sweet”). We made burgers on Tuesday and I decided to be crazy and add some on top. WOW!

    They were hot and sweet, but the sweetness complimented the burger. I won’t do it all the time (heartburn anyone?) but it was a great combination.

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